As your business grows, eventually you’ll want to start building a team. Having people in your corner means you don’t have to be the expert at everything, and you can spend more energy on the tasks and projects that truly require you to do them.
But there’s often a fuzzy gray area between recognizing that you could use extra help and actually having the resources to hire that help. Additionally, even established businesses can benefit from reducing their costs—and hiring a team can quickly become a major expense.
This is where I like to consider using an “internship” strategy.
Instead of hiring new personnel as you grow, consider offering an internship. Go to your local junior college, college, or university and offer an internship for the semester—or the year—to those seeking degrees or experience in a similar field or area of expertise as needed for your business.
But how do you know if offering an internship is the right approach?
Here are my top five reasons hiring an intern is a great move for the growing small business.
1. Internships can help cut down on labor costs
Labor costs make up a huge expense for any small business. Salary, benefits, social security taxes, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, and other costs really add up.
And yet, what can you do? You must have the labor you need to operate your business, especially as your business grows.
Hiring an intern can help cut down on labor costs in a couple of ways. First, student interns are more likely to work part-time, since they usually have classes to attend in addition to the internship.
Second, their lack of experience means they can start at a lower salary than other prospective employees, and they don’t need a huge benefits package to make the job appealing. This is in part because most of the benefit for interns comes from the experience, which brings us to reason number two:
2. You are helping students gain real-world experience which makes them more competitive in the job market
Schools love it when a business offers internships because internships act as a value-add to their educational offerings by providing their students with real-world experience. Some schools even offer course credit for internships as an extra incentive. Many schools have a job placement office that will be happy to help you find the right candidate.
And the students love them, too!
Not only does an internship put some money in their pocket, but it also gives them practical, hands-on experience in their field.
This experience looks great on their resume. It gives them a jumpstart on their peers when they graduate, especially if the company providing the internship hires them upon graduation.
And given the state of the economy and the sparseness of the current job market, any competitive edge is a big deal.
3. Administrative help allows you to focus on the important things
Every business could use additional administrative help.
Offering an internship to a student majoring in business administration not only helps the student gain hands-on work experience, but this can also be a low-cost way to take some of the administrative tasks off your plate.
What could you get done in your business if you could pass off your admin tasks to someone who is actually interested in business administration?
Spending less time fretting over administrative details and more time working in your zone of genius can have major ripple effects that spread through your entire business.
4. Student interns are dedicated and enthusiastic
Just because interns work part-time, have less experience, or accept a lower starting pay doesn’t mean their work will be subpar.
Far from it: Interns are enthusiastic and eager to learn, and they’re highly motivated to produce quality work.
This is especially true if there is a possibility of being hired full-time after graduation, but even the promise of adding your glowing recommendation to their job materials can be an excellent motivator.
And since interns’ goals are often centered on learning how to work in a particular field, they tend to be especially open to critique and have a genuine desire to improve. Sometimes they even possess skills or a perspective that older, more experienced workers may not—consider their skill with social media or reaching that younger demographic.
5. Interns can fill the gaps as you grow
If you’re a micro-business or solopreneur, you probably don’t need a full-time employee. But as your business continues to grow, you may find having extra help to be a huge asset.
In this way, hiring an intern part-time can be a gap fill until your business grows enough that you need full-time help.
And by the time you’re ready for a full-time employee, then perhaps this intern will have graduated and will be ready for a full-time job—and they’ll already be trained and familiar with your processes. It’s a win-win!
Is offering an internship right for you?
Internships could potentially save small-business owners thousands of dollars each year, but as we’ve seen, that’s not the only reason to hire an intern.
Internships can provide enthusiastic help for the tasks you don’t need to do yourself, and can be an excellent stepping stone as your business continues to grow.
To decide if an internship approach is right for you, take a look at the administrative tasks you wish you didn’t have to do.
- What would you pay a full-time professional or contract worker to do them?
- Could an intern handle these tasks, or do they require professional expertise?
- What would you pay an intern? How much would that save you?
- What would it cost (in additional time or money) to train the intern as compared to a more seasoned worker in the areas where they lack experience? Would your hiring savings outweigh these costs?
- Could the intern bring some additional skills or perspective that you don’t need to train (and maybe can’t)?
And perhaps even more importantly:
- What would you focus on if you didn’t have to do those tasks?
- How would the time you spend on your business look different?
- What could you accomplish in a year by focusing on the aspects of your business that sit firmly in your zone of genius?
If you’d like to dig deeper on this and other strategies for increasing your profits, grab your free copy of my e-book, Mind Your Profits, at www.profitminds.net.